The concept of life after death seems a little vague to me. What exactly lives on, the memories? If you get hit with a baseball bat in the right place you can lose you memories, or more sadly, the brain degenerates with Alzheimer’s.
Not that life after death is a necessary concept to human lives before death, but it seems quite popular. It’s a hard issue to face.
Here’s a thought experiment that came to me in Portland:
“Suppose you could be cloned, and he would have all your memories and be exactly like you, but you did not share a consciousness with him. So, if you die, while your work may go on, your personal ability to enjoy it will not. If that is the scenario, how would your fear of death manifest?
Are you afraid because of the pain? Afraid because of the absence of fulfillment? If your clone will live on, and only your bodily sensations will die, why be afraid of death at all? What is the driver toward life in that instance? Because in the same way we already have such clones, and we will get closer and closer to it as time goes on.
So, must you live for something greater than yourself, even now? For if you are living to create a better existence for the rest of life, then your perishing is a detriment, no matter the memory backup.”
Realizing that your personality and memories are stored in a rather fragile skull puts a new perspective on life. You are your neural structure. These arms, legs, this face and body, it’s all embedded in that framework.
In fact, I feel that your bodily-idea is built up over time, not hard-coded at birth. That’s why you can learn how to write with a pencil or eat with a fork. You extend your consciousness to the tools you use. I’ve seen this phenomenon with video games too, where fluid movement becomes second nature.
Having given it some thought, it seems to me that if we human animals don’t end up destorying ourselves in some sort of total nuclear war, we will gradually merge with technology.
Given that two brains are better than one at solving problems, I think we will get to the point where individual bodily consciousnesses are rare, and our memories are digitized and shared.
That’s a long way off perhaps, but it’s something to consider in the evolution of Humankind.
What do you do when you don’t die?